The Three Frogs: Satan's Recruiting Agents, 16:13-16
This interlude is placed in the vision between the sixth and seventh symbols just as in the other visions.
When the sixth bowl was emptied, the way was made open for the coming of the Parthian enemy of Rome.
This is, of course, symbolical of the army-host in the hand of God to do battle with Rome.
When the three allies of the evil forces see this possibility, they realize that they must gather the kings
of the world to defeat these Parthians.
John sees three unclean spirits in the form of frogs make their appearance.
They make their appearance out of the mounts of the dragon, the first beast, and the second beasts,
which is here called the false prophet.
No verb is used to show how they came out.
The Greek simply states, " I saw out of the mouth of the dragon..."
One scholar takes the position that the frogs were vomited up.
Another thinks they were breathe out -- the breath of the three allies changed to frogs.
The loathsomeness of the figure inclines one to accept the first position.
The ideal of breathing out evil influences inclines one to take the second position.
Perhaps it is immaterial.
The three frogs are called spirits of demons sent out by the three evil allies to deceive the kings
of the world and get them on the side of Rome for the approaching conflict.
They fulfill their task of deception and gather the kings to the battlefield,
a place called "Har-magedon."
The battle is not fought until we reach chapter 19.
This is the symbolism.
What is the meaning?
The futurist has no difficulty.
He sees no need for an interpretation of Armageddon, which ends world history
and secures God's throne for Him.
Neither this nor the view of the continuous-historical methods of interpretation has any meaning
for those who needed the message most -- the persecuted Christians of Asia Minor.
The last named group applies the whole thing to the apostasy of the Roman Catholic Church.
The drying up of the Euphrates was the counter teaching of the Reformation which stopped
the flow of Catholic teaching.
According to this view the three frogs were (1) a declaration of the Council of Trent,
(2) the declaration of the Vatican Council, (3) the papal encyclicals, particularly those
completing the system of Mariolatry.
According to this view, the battle is the struggle between Catholicism and the true church.
Not by the wildest stretch of imagination could this have had any meaning to the Christians
for whom the book was primarily intended.
This paragraph is symbolical.
It pictures the devil, the emperor, and the Concilia rallying their forces to battle
against the forces of righteousness.
The three frogs perhaps symbolize some form of evil propaganda since they came from the mouths of the three.
They are the offspring of the devil, of godless government, and of false religion.
They are the real enemies of Christ.
True religion has no worst enemies, and Satan no better allies, then false propaganda.
From the witnesses who withstood Moses before Pharoah, on down to such products
of the first century as Simon Magus and on to our own day, there have been those
who pretended to work signs which the belief of the age has attributed to superhuman influence.
So these recruiting agents of Satan work signs (a characteristic Johannine conception for miracle)
to enlist followers.
The lust for power and the bitterness of false religion are here pictured in their efforts
to strengthen themselves.
Behind them is the devil pushing them on.
There have been many times when nations have been seized by a dark passion for war
which the historian finds difficulty in explaining.
Such a conflict is pictured here, but it is spiritual rather than material.
These allies gather their forces on the battlefield called Armageddon.
This was a famous Hebrew battlefield.
Here Gideon and his 300 defeated the Midianites.
Here King Saul was defeated by the Philistines.
Here Barak and Deborah overthrew the hosts of the Canaanite King, Jabin.
Here Ahaziah died of Jehu's arrows.
And here Pharoah-Necho overthrew Josiah.
The place was burned into the minds of the Jewish people, and the mourning for Josiah
in the valley of Megiddo was long afterward quoted as a typical example of national grief.
Thus Megiddo fitly symbolized the worldwide distress of righteousness and evil engaged in deadly combat.
This is not an actual material sword and spear battle.
Such a thing would be at cross purposes with all the teachings of the New Testament,
the ideals which Jesus held, His death on the cross, and all God's purposes of grace.
The way of Jesus was never the way of the sword.
His sword is the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.
If one expects this to be a literal, material battle, he must expect the army to be headed
by a committee of three frogs.
Both figures are symbolical.
Neither is literal
There is no reason for making one literal and the other symbolical.
The Armageddon in the book of Revelation has no location on the maps of the world.
It is logical, not spatial.
The battle is not one in which material, physical armaments will decide the issue.
The battle is between righteousness and evil, and righteousness is the certain victor.
(7) the seventh bowl (16:17 to 20: 10) is now poured out, and it is revealed that
all the forces of evil cannot defeat the cause of righteousness.
When the contents of this bowl were scattered broadcast upon the air, a voice was heard
from the throne in the temple saying, " It is done." (perfect tense)
With this final installment of God's wrath, there were manifestations of divine wrath
-- thunder, lightnings, voices, and an earthquake; the imperial city of Rome was divided
into three parts -- the divine number indicates that divine work overthrew the city.
Babylon (here, Rome) was looked upon as the supreme antidivine world power.
It is thus remembered in the sight of God.
His destructive power falls so effectively that the earthquake levels the mountains
and submerges the islands, which are the strongholds of Rome.
Hailstones weighing 100 pounds each fell with destructive force upon wicked men,
who continued to blasphemed the God who was responsible for these things
-- a graphic picture of God's judgment.
Here, as in other places, the three things which led to the downfall of Rome are noted:
natural calamity, internal rottenness, and external invasion.
Rome was doomed.
Thus does John picture God's judgment upon the oppressors of His people.
It did little good for the allies to send out their recruiting frogs.
God's power dashed Rome to pieces just the same.
When John saw the earthquake and giant hailstones combined to dash Rome to pieces,
one of the seven angels recently engaged in administering God's retributive wrath told him
to come over to a another stage and see in detail what he had just seen in the quick fall of the city.
What he saw covers the last scene of conflict between the forces of good and the forces of evil.
One should beware of weaving the materials of this section (17:1 to 20:10) into some
fantastic eschatological program.
This has often been done, with the result of wasted time and energy and a perversion
of the true meaning of the Scriptures.
The scenes do not compose a scene of connected events for the purpose of satisfying
our curiosity about the future.
All of us possess that curiosity.
Some control it better than others.
These visions are designed to set forth the promise of the ultimate triumph of righteousness
over all the evil forces which oppose it.
This was its message to the Christians of Asia Minor about A.D. 95.
It assured them of the certain victory of Christianity over Rome.
In a similar way today, it assures us of the certain triumph of the cause of Christ
over the cause of evil in every age.
In this respect, the philosophy of the history method of interpretation is correct.
The vision is given to us under the symbolism of several pictures setting forth the doom of Rome.
Next: a. The Scarlet Woman: Rome, 17:1-18